Blogs & Comment

Winners and Losers: Air Canada takes off, Porter hits rock bottom

Winner: Air Canada

Air Canada plane saying “BRB LOL” in iMessage

Passengers tired of reading the in-flight magazine and airplane safety card tucked into the seat in front of them have been begging the airline to roll out on-board Wi-Fi for years. On April 9 Air Canada announced it will begin offering WiFi on 29 of its aircraft flying in North America by the end of this year, with another 100 to follow in 2015. The service will be offered for a fee through a partnership with Gogo, the U.S.-based in-flight ISP. For Air Canada, Wi-Fi brings a much-needed new revenue stream to an endlessly troubled business model. It’s also a win for passengers who can’t stand the thought of spending a few hours reading an old-fashioned book—though there’s still no word on whether Air Canada will follow the lead of the U.S. airline industry and finally admit that using electronic devices during takeoff and landing will not actually bring the plane to a screeching halt.

Loser: Porter Airlines

William Lyon McKenzie King Kong swiping at a Porter Air plane

Building a permanent connection between Porter’s home terminal at Toronto’s island airport and the mainland has long been a touchy point for local politicians—when work began on an underground tunnel to the island in 2012, the project hit a snag when construction works ran into long stretches of sheet metal driven into the ground following a previously thwarted attempt to tunnel to the island in 1935. That project ended when Liberal William Lyon Mackenzie King defeated Conservative Prime Minister R. B. Bennett and ordered the hole filled in, much to the delight of Toronto’s then mayor Sam McBride.

Tunnel opponents won’t be so lucky this time around, but the sheet metal, combined with city noise bylaws that prevent around-the-clock digging, and contaminated soil means the project, which was slated to be completed this spring, has now officially been delayed by a year. Porter’s chosen place of business continues to be as much a hindrance to its business plan as it is a boon— for now, its passengers will still have to take a boat before they can fly Toronto’s semi-friendly skies.